US Embassy Sofia: What’s Happening in Bulgaria?

Via Embassy Sofia/FB:
The challenge is on! Ambassador Mustafa and her diplomat band perform a favorite Bulgarian song, and challenge 3 Bulgarian musicians to respond. Who got the challenge? What’s the song? Will the challenge be accepted? Find out in our video!

Because the #2016Election Is Not Scary Enough … Happy Halloween Voters! Get Your Ballot!

Posted: 1:33 pm ET
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A shoutout to U.S. Consulate Halifax who did their Halloween party with a reminder to overseas Americans on how to request their absentee ballots.  The Federal Voting Assistance Program includes information for the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and the Federal Write-in Ballot (FWAB) to cast your absentee ballots. Go do it!

Bonus tweets from Palmerston and the White House:


U.S. Embassy Bulgaria Issues/Withdraws Security Message, PM Reacts to Threat Alert on Sofia Buses

Posted: 1:04 am EDT
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On March 23, the U.S. Embassy in Sofia issued a Security Message regarding a possible threat against an unspecified bus line or bus lines in the vicinity of Hotel Pliska (Boulevard “Tsarigradsko shose” 87), in the eastern Sofia neighborhood of Istok.  It advised American citizens to avoid the area and to find alternate means of transportation.

A few hours later, the message was withdrawn, the embassy posting “Security Alert no longer in effect” on its website.  According to, the alert has angered the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov who is quoted as saying, “The information… does not match reality.”

Domestic security agency DANS and the Interior Ministry have already checked the warning submitted to 112, the emergency hotline, Borisov has explained in a statement that follows a message by the US State Department citing the country’s embassy in Sofia.

“The checkup found out it was all about unsettled love relations between a Bulgarian and a foreign national,” he has added.

Borisov has also slammed US diplomats for exporting to the public “the information received by their Bulgarian counterparts” and for doing so in an “absolutely unacceptable way”.

The security message follows the bombings in Brussels and Ankara, the latter a subject of much speculation online that Embassy Ankara had to release a statement on how it became aware of the threat.

Reuters reports that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov also says, “I want to assure Bulgarian citizens that the state investigates any indication of a threat to citizens and would not withhold such a thing from the public if there was the slightest danger to life and limb.”

Since the embassy received the information from their Bulgarian counterparts, the USG officials in Sofia were obligated to disseminate  the information or they’d run afoul of the USG’s No Double Standard policy (see 7 FAM 052).

Generally, if the Department shares information with the official U.S. community, it should also make the same or similar information available to the non-official U.S. community if the underlying threat applies to both official and non-official U.S. citizens/nationals.  If a post issues information to its employees about potentially dangerous situations, it should evaluate whether the potential danger could also affect private U.S. citizens/nationals living in or traveling through the affected area.

In this case, if the embassy told its employees “to avoid” a specific area and “to find alternate means of transportation” due to a possible threat, they are required to share that information with U.S. nationals living in Bulgaria. Except in extraordinarily urgent circumstances, posts are cautioned not to issue an Emergency Message or a Security Message pertaining to safety or  security of private U.S. citizens without first clearing the language with the Department.



Fictional Girl Almost Cause Massive School Brawl, Later Reported Kidnapped for $50K Ransom to US Embassy

— By Domani Spero


In late August, 18-year old Andriy Mykhaylivskyy (on Twitter as @AndriyHaddad and in IMDB) was arrested and charged by federal complaint with making false statements to a United States official. He allegedly used the internet and social media to create a fictitious high school girl, used that fake identity to establish an online relationship with another person and then falsely reported the girl’s kidnapping to the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, Moldova.  The other individual allegedly used by Mykhaylivskyy reported the same kidnapping to the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Presumably, the two kidnapping reports sent not just two embassy duty officers but also Regional Security Officers and host country officials on a wild goose chase for a fictitious person allegedly created by Mykhaylivskyy on Facebook using photographs of an actual high school student taken from an unsecured Facebook page without her knowledge or permission. reported in August that last year at a different high school, Mykhaylivskyy lured another student into a six-month online relationship with a girl named Chantel Caparelli which did not result well for the student. In April, more than two dozen boys and young men from Weehawken and Rutherford were also threatening to meet for a massive brawl over a girl.  A mother quoted in the report says, “Nobody knew at the time that this girl Kate wasn’t real, so they were all fighting over her.”  Read more in  Alleged ‘Catfish’ scheme spurred anger, threats of violence at Rutherford High School. And this:  Federal agents arrest Rutherford man, 18, in Bulgarian kidnap hoax.

According to NYDaily News, Mr. Mykhaylivskyy was ordered held in lieu of $5,000 bail after he was arraigned in federal court. A judge also ordered that the teen continue school, but can only be allowed to use the Internet for educational purposes.


Via USDOJ:  N.J. Man Arrested for Making False Report of Kidnapping of Online “Teenage Girl” to U.S. Embassy

NEWARK, N.J. – A Bergen County, N.J., man who allegedly used the internet and social media to create a fictitious high school girl, used that fake identity to establish an online relationship with another person and then falsely reported the girl’s kidnapping to a U.S. Embassy was arrested today by federal officials, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Andriy Mykhaylivskyy, a/k/a/ “Andriy Haddad,” 18, of Rutherford, N.J., was arrested this morning and charged by complaint with making false statements to a United States official. He is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven C. Mannion in Newark federal court.

According to the complaint:

In late August 2012, Mykhaylivskyy, allegedly posing as Kate Brianna Fulton, began an online relationship with a high school classmate identified in court papers as “Individual One.” Law enforcement investigation determined Kate Fulton was a fictitious person created by Mykhaylivskyy on Facebook using photographs of an actual high school student taken from an unsecured Facebook page without her knowledge or permission.

On July 2, 2013, Mykhaylivskyy, using an alias, called the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, Moldova, and reported that his girlfriend, “Kate Fulton,” a United States citizen, had been kidnapped in Bulgaria on June 28, 2013. The online relationship continued until Kate’s alleged kidnapping, with Mykhaylivskyy maintaining the relationship online and via text messaging.

Mykhaylivskyy independently befriended Individual One, claimed to know Kate Fulton, and confirmed details regarding Kate Fulton.

On July 8, 2013, the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, received a telephone call from Individual One seeking assistance regarding the kidnapping of Kate Brianna Fulton, whom Individual One reported was kidnapped while she was vacationing in Burgas, Bulgaria. Individual One provided the Embassy with tweets that Individual One received on June 29, 2013, a day after the purported kidnapping, from Kate Brianna Fulton’s Twitter account. One tweet was of a number that Individual One believed to be Kate’s local Bulgarian cell phone and the other read, “Someone help me.”

After receiving the second report of the kidnapping, federal agents from the U.S. Embassy Sofia, Bulgaria, Regional Security Office and the headquarters of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in Northern Virginia engaged in an extensive investigation to locate Kate Brianna Fulton and also received assistance from Bulgarian law enforcement. Bulgarian police combed hotels, hostels and other lodgings in Burgas seeking information on the missing girl and the Bulgarian border police searched incoming passenger records.

This law enforcement investigation revealed that Kate Brianna Fulton was a fictitious person created by Mykhaylivskyy, and that the high school student whose pictures were used without her permission was safe and in the United States.

The count of making false statements with which Mykhaylivskyy is charged is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security in Embassy Sofia, the DSS Office of Protective Intelligence Investigations, the DSS New York Field Office and the New York and Newark Joint Terrorism Task Forces, for the investigation leading to today’s arrest.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara F. Merin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mykhaylivskyy Complaint

Coming soon to a teevee-movie near you.








Officially In: Marcie B. Ries – from Arms Control Bureau (AVC) to Bulgaria

On May 24, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Marcie B. Ries as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria. The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Marcie B. Ries, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Career-Minister, is

English: Marcie Berman Ries, U.S. Ambassador t...

Marcie Berman Ries. Ries, Marcie Berman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.  From 2008 to 2009, she was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.  Previously, she served as Minister-Counselor for Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad (2007-2008), U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Albania (2004-2007), and Chief of Mission at the U.S. Office in Pristina, Kosovo (2003-2004).  She has also served as Director of the Office of United Nations Political Affairs in the Bureau of International Organizations (2001-2003) and as Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in London (1996-2000).  Other overseas assignments include posts to the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels; Ankara, Turkey; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  

She received a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

If confirmed, Ambassador Ries would succeed career diplomat James B. Warlick, Jr. who was appointed to the US Embassy in Sofia in 2009.

On April 12, New Europe Online citing local media reported that Sofia has received a request for agrément for a new Ambassador to Bulgaria.

According to the television sources, it is very probable that Ambassador Warlick will leave the country before the end of his mandate of three years. BTV also announces that the person to fill the post of US Ambassador in Bulgaria is expected to be a former representative of the States in Albania who is now a civil servant. The Bulgarian television also clarified that according to the webpage of the American Embassy in Teheran, there were only two women to hold the position of Ambassador in the last 10 years, namely Marisa Lino (1996-1999) and Marcie Ries (2004-2007).

Looks like these folks have excellent sources. Last week, Ambassador Warlick tweeted this:

Ambassador Warlick assumed charge of the embassy on January 21, 2010. By the time the new ambassador is confirmed by the Senate, his tenure in Sofia will be closer to 36 months.

A side note on this appointment – Ambassador Marcie B. Ries is one half of a former tandem couple who went on to become ambassadors: Ambassador Ries as then US Ambassador to Albania (2004-2007), and her husband, Charles Ries as then US Ambassador to Greece (2004-2007). Ambassador James Warlick is also one half of a current tandem couple serving as ambassadors. His wife, Mary Burce Warlick is the current US Ambassador to Serbia.

Domani Spero

Related item:
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts | May 24, 2012